Having been around a while we’ve developed a bit of a language of our own when describing things to people. Stuff we’ve either dreamed up, misheard, misquoted or somehow appropriated from elsewhere whilst owning it at the same time. People often comment on our ability to sum up complicated art or philosophy related concepts in short, sometimes pithy statements. It’s often a useful way of communicating ideas without needless wordification, something we’ve always avoided and the majority of the artworld seems addicted to. We say, artists are only metaphor pimps, after all.
1. Health and Risk Policy
We have one of these. People often complain about political correctness gone mad, when they actually mean health and safety gone mad. This has been noted. Our policy basically means – Stay Safe, Take Risks. Which are not mutually exclusive. It is possible to take calculated risks, while ensuring personal safety. People are also perfectly capable of taking responsibility for themselves. One of the most liberating things about making art in some of the far flung places we have been privileged to work in is the freedom to do this, to just make an intervention without asking permission, without filling in a form or buying a licence. As long as you take responsibility, and also take care to keep people safe, it is acceptable to allow people to take part in something that doesn’t wrap them in cotton wool, physically or emotionally. We have a health and safety policy, too.
2. Drive-by Art
Or what we call socially disengaged practice. A lot of people have been guilty of this, particularly lately when working in the field of participation has become a bit more sexy. So, what do we mean by this? It’s like someone driving into Soweto, winding down the window, taking some photographs and then sticking them up in a gallery or in a coffee table book and saying they’ve made a socially-engaged project. It doesn’t really do anything, there’s no involvement by the participants, it’s inauthentic and there’s no real legacy (nothing wrong with photos in a gallery or coffee table books btw, just the contextualising of content). We apply this to a lot of projects and interventions as a way of ensuring we don’t make the same error, we ask ourselves: ‘is this drive-by art?’, and even if it feels like it might be a bit, we change it.
3. If You’re Not Doing What You Say You’re Doing, Change What you’re Doing Or Change What You’re Saying’
Probably the closest thing we have to a religion. Authenticity is uber important to us and if we think we’re bullshitting in any way, we rapidly act to change it. We try to be careful about what we say, and make sure it is what it says it is, whether it’s our artwork or just the way we communicate with people. If it isn’t immersive we won’t say it is. If we aren’t connecting people through a project, we won’t say we are. Many of the people we work with, often from quite tough backgrounds, have a very well-developed bullshit detector. We wouldn’t be able to make the work we make with people if we weren’t ‘real’ about things, people would smell it. Feel free to shout at us if you find any examples of us doing this.